Veteran care close to home

November 2, 2020

Mille Lacs Health System is proud to be partnered with The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in providing options to veterans for local emergency care, and other pre-authorized services such as therapies, labs, x-rays, and many others under their VA benefits.

The VA launched its new and improved Veterans Community Care Program last summer. The new program eases up on some of the requirements to be eligible for local care instead of receiving care directly at the VA.

Rules established under the new law say the VA will pay for veterans to see non-VA doctors if they have to wait longer than 20 days, or drive more than 30 minutes for primary or mental healthcare at a VA facility.

For specialty care, they can see private doctors at VA expense if they have to wait longer than 28 days, or drive more than an hour to see a VA provider.

Since the implementation of the new Veterans Community Care Program, MLHS has seen some confusion from patients as to what local care is covered or available and how to get emergency services covered by the VA.

To be eligible for the Veterans Community Care Program, the veteran must be active with their primary care physician at the VA, which means they have been seen within the last 24 months.

If veterans utilize emergency services at MLHS via Urgent Care or Emergency Dept., it is imperative they contact The VA Medical Center within 72 hours of the start of care. Failure to make this call could result in denial of the claim by the VA, and the veteran would then be responsible for the bill.

The veteran, a family member, or friend can call the VA at 320-252-1670, extension 7020, or 7021 and give necessary information to a person, or leave a message. The call will take less than 2 minutes to complete and can be done anytime day or night, within the 72 hours of receiving care.

Information needed: veteran’s name, last four digits of Social Security number, name of facility where veteran received service, date of service, and basic reason for visit.

Besides emergency services, veterans can arrange to do regular labs, therapies, etc. at MLHS, but these types of scheduled care services must be pre-authorized with the veteran’s primary care team at VA to ensure they are covered under VA benefits. This coverage requires the veteran to call in advance and set-up an active authorization for a Non-VA care facility.

If you have any questions, please contact Tina, Patient Accounts Representative, at MLHS at 320-532-2647.